This blog entry is the very rough, coarse, most likely to be re-written 7 more times, 1st (2nd really) draft of chapter 1 of something I'm calling Macrobia, a city-state in the not too distant future of the United States.
This chapter is spread out over a few blog entries because of the word limit. . .and to make it easier to read.
Feel free to comment, critique, offer suggestions, food, and Nepalese Rupees. All will be welcome.
PS. I'm copying and pasting this thing from Word.
The call, a high pitched wailing cry, went out from the walls of the castle. Almost by instinct, people everywhere in the plaza emptied their pockets of everything. Receipts, credit cards, pens, watches, necklaces, even cash, and immediately laid it down. Michael hesitated, even though he knew they would check his pockets. Still, there was the chance. He hesitated, thought better, and pulled out a wad of cash and a handkerchief, and shoved it in a crack in the nearby concrete wall.
Michael Perez was a shade under 6-foot-tall and fair in complexion. His thin angular face and dark-grey eyes seemed to pierce one’s soul. People found it difficult to look him in the eyes. They said they felt transparent in his presence and were found wanting. He wore his hair short and as a rule never let it go more than 6 weeks without getting it cut. His long, thin, but very dark eyebrows gave his face a hawk-like bearing. He wore sand-colored khakis and denim long-sleeved shirt. He always wore khakis and long-sleeved shirt, and never varied.
“Of all the times for the Prime Minister to call, it had to be now,” he thought to himself. He looked around. Everyone looked like hippies in a drug-induced stupor. . .or just stupid. He felt ridiculous leaving his money out for the entire world to see. But everyone knew the Law and the sweep patrols were always more than happy to remind you.
“I don’t care what anyone thinks. I’m not going to the PM.” The plaza was nearly deserted. A few stragglers hurried past, but other than that nobody remained. Lots of shops surrounded the brick-lined square. He walked in the opposite direction from the PM’s castle keeping his head down to avoid suspicion. Not everyone had to see the PM today. You only had to see him once a year, but once a year was enough.
Michael picked up his pace, and came to a deserted street. It hit him at once like a splash of cold water. “He’s coming. Velkladdeur is coming. He’s at the end of the street.” Michael had developed an uncanny intuition. He could divine events before they happened, and he felt Velkladdeur, the chief of the PM’s secret police, approaching in his mind’s eye. His hair stood on end. His skin crawled. He turned and walked back towards the shopping plaza and the PM.
The plaza was empty. A wave of nausea hit him. He gulped and ran towards the only door left open. Too late. It snapped shut.
“Man, man, man, man, man, MAN. . .this is not good,” he thought. “Hide. I must hide.”
Out of the corner of his eye he saw a tarp-covered park bench adjacent to a construction site. Velkladdeur’s presence was gone, but something else approached. Drone. A flying globe that detected motion. A flying machine, basketball-sized, that sensed the smell of blood. He felt the flying droid hovering around the corner. He turned towards the tarp and nearly ran into a homeless man-the Can Man.
The Can Man was a balding fellow with short, curly, greasy, brown hair. You smelled him before you saw him. The Can Man could always be recognized by his clothes, since he always wore the same thing; faded blue-jeans, tee-shirt, and faded denim jacket. Even in the middle of summer. People said he had a wardrobe full of identical outfits, sort of like a regular Ernest P. Worrell of whom he bore a slight resemblance. The Can Man walked around the city with a black garbage bag collecting aluminum cans to get insulin money for his diabetic wife. There was a slightly devious look in his eyes. Not enough to commit a big crime, like murder, but perhaps a pickpocket or two.
Michael glared for an instant, and then grinned. The Can Man said, “sorry,” in his soft timid voice. Michael ran on.
He dropped to the ground and rolled under the tarp. Seconds later the drone rounded the corner and hovered over the very spot Michael stood. It paused for a moment as if sniffing the air, and then silently buzzed through the air zigzagging to detect the subtle change in the air temperature. It hovered above the tarp-covered picnic table. Michael froze. The flying drones, some no bigger than a sparrow, detected humans by hat and movement. Lie perfectly still and there was a chance you could avoid detection.
“Steady. . .steady, Michael,” he told himself. “Just don’t move.” Every muscle in his body relaxed. He could feel the faint metallic clicking of the manhunter probe slowly ejecting from the drone.
Michael sensed rather than felt the tip of the long, snaky probe rest against the back of his neck. He wasn’t sure if the probe registered his existence or not. An alternate thought struck him. “It may think Mr. Can is me.” He didn’t know for sure.
Heart rate: 80 bpm
Blood type: O+
Height: 1.98 m
Weight: 51.1 kg
ID Number: 63MX4R_hss
Caught! He sensed the drone scrape cells from his skin. Just a few were needed for a complete DNA analysis. Why did the drone register him as 63MX4R_hss? He had never been chipped before. His employer kept prodding him to do so, but something about the process bothered him. Nobody dared appear before the PM without proper identification. To do so was certain death. Besides, you couldn’t carry on business without it for long in the city.
He felt the sensor remove from his body and recoil back to the drone. It flew away. Michael relaxed.
Sometime later he heard voices on the plaza. He rolled over and gasped. The Can Man was lying beside him the entire time. His eyes stared directly into Michael. A thin mucus covered them. He was dead.
Michael rolled away and emptied his stomach. A minute later he left the tarp in time to see the first people emerge from the PM’s cathedral. “Something is different about them,” he wondered. “Their eyes. . .they’re glazy, hollow. . .and yet, they live.”
Two women and a little boy walked past. He followed them.
The mass of people headed towards a complex of dome-shaped buildings a mile away. Michael felt compelled to investigate. The closer the buildings, the greater the sense of evil grew on him. “I must…not…enter…that…complex. Complex bad.”
The air seemed heavier, thicker. And, “are my eyes getting blurry?” He wondered.
They walked by a gravel parking lot. “Now is my chance. I’ll just act like I’m going to my car, then duck out of site until everybody is gone.” Michael scrambled three feet down a dusty path and surveyed the lot. “Let’s see now. What kind of a car would Mr. Perez, molecular biologist at ZantraTec Pharmaceuticals drive? The white Mustang? Nope. Too flashy. The black Ford SUV? It would be easy to hide under, but too hot in the July sun. And in this corner we have a green Jeep. Ahh, just right.”
Michael walked to a dirty Wrangler and peered inside. “Whoever owns this thing, must have stock in McDonalds and Marlboro.” The floor was littered with cigarette butts and Big Mac wrappers. It was an older model Jeep, one that required you to punch in a numeric password to open. Unlike the newer versions that only required one to pass your arm over a dash-mounted scanner. The scanner detected the microchip in your arm and presto. . .the door unlocked itself. In the decade since the government began mass-chipping the population, automobile thefts dropped to virtually zero. Still, some people refused to purchase new cars and relied on pre-2015 models.
Embedded microchips first became available in the 1990s when Applied Digital Solutions of Delray Beach, Florida created a device about the size of a grain of rice that could easily be inserted into a person. The VeriChip™ was a tiny implantable radio frequency identification device or RFID. In humans, the microchip is inserted in the back of the upper right arm. Because of its tiny size, it is practically undetectable once embedded. A polyethylene cover helps the chip bond with the skin so it doesn’t migrate.
The chip works in much the same manner as the bar code scanner at your local grocery store. Only instead of a bar code, one has the half inch long microchip in your shoulder. When a scanner or reader passes over, a radio signal energizes the dormant VeriChip™ which then transmits a unique sixteen digit identification number. This number is used to provide access to a secure database in Switzerland containing the person’s complete medical history.
“Ow! Let me go!” shouted a voice. Michael heard scuffling at the end of the parking lot. Two men wearing identical clothing; black pants, black shirt, black shoes, were arresting somebody. The sweep patrol.
In a matter of seconds, the sweep patrollers subdued the man, scanned him, and subjected him to a breath test on their portable GC-MS systems that monitored volatile organic compounds, or VOC’s, that were considered markers for various disease. They also told you what food you ate, how much, and where you purchased it.
A crowd gathered around the scene like a pack of hyenas. And like hyenas, they laughed and stared at the prisoner.
Michael threw himself to the ground and rolled under the Jeep. He didn’t hear or see the man in black watching him. So when a face appeared some time after the mass of people had passed by, he thought for certain he was caught.